Navigating Body Armor Laws: Understanding Your Responsibilities
May 22, 2023
When it comes to purchasing and owning body armor, it's not only crucial to choose the right level of protection for your needs, but also to be aware of the laws and regulations governing its possession in your area. Different countries, regions, states, and even local municipalities have specific laws, regulations, and guidelines that dictate how body armor can be bought and sold.
Understanding and adhering to these laws is essential to ensure legal compliance and responsible ownership. In this blog post, we will explore body armor laws in various major areas to help you navigate the legal landscape.
Let’s start by looking specifically at the United States and the state-by-state requirements if any.
Body Armor Laws in the United States:
In the United States, it is generally legal for individuals to purchase and possess body armor. A total of forty-six states in the U.S. allow civilians (that are not convicted of a felony or have a criminal record) to buy and own body armor. In most states if you are a convicted felon, simply possessing body armor is a Misdemeanor at a minimum.
In plain English, if you are a bad person doing bad things while wearing body armor, you are likely to face additional compounding charges.
Additionally, these (46) states allow for the purchase of body armor online or in person. Many states have individual laws regarding the use of body armor while committing a crime and in nearly all cases, additional charges can be expected for those individuals.
Here are the states that you can legally purchase and wear bulletproof vests unless convicted of a felony. In these states Body armor can be purchased online or in person.
- California (Until February 2023 with a possible change in laws, see below)
- Illinois (until January 1, 2024, when a new law takes effect, see below)
- Kansas (except in the city of Topeka during certain events, see below)
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Washington State
- West Virginia
However, there are a few exceptions and state-specific laws to be aware of and with some additional clarifications provided below.
- Connecticut: Connecticut has stricter laws on body armor. It is prohibited to buy or sell body armor except through a face-to-face sale. Online retailers are not allowed to market or sell to Connecticut residents. It is a class B misdemeanor to sell or deliver body armor without an in-person meeting, with exceptions for authorized officials or specific agencies.
- Maryland: In Maryland, civilians with a prior conviction for a crime of violence or a drug trafficking crime are prohibited from using, possessing, or purchasing bulletproof body armor without a permit issued by the Secretary of the Maryland State Police. Individuals with such convictions can petition the Secretary for a permit to use, possess, and purchase bulletproof body armor.
- New York: In New York, the purchase of body armor is restricted to certain professions approved for ownership, such as law enforcement. It cannot be purchased by civilians unless they fall within those approved professions.
- Rhode Island: In Rhode Island, it is legal for civilians to purchase and use body armor, including bulletproof vests, unless they have been convicted of a felony. However, Rhode Island passed a bill in 2012 that prohibits individuals convicted of a felony that is a crime of violence from buying or possessing body armor.
** Special notes:
- California - Assembly Bill 92 is being passed in California to restrict the purchase and use of body armor for certain professions (This will likely look similar to New York).
- As of February 2023, civilians without felony convictions can legally purchase and use bulletproof vests. Body armor can be purchased online or in person.
- Illinois - Illinois is attempting to pass legislation to prohibit the manufacturing, selling, importing, purchasing, and possessing of body armor, but currently, there are no additional laws pertaining to retailers.
- Kansas - Wearing a bulletproof vest is illegal during protests and certain events in Topeka, Kansas, but does not affect retailers. Civilians without felony convictions can legally purchase and use bulletproof vests. Body armor can be purchased online or in person.
- Louisiana - Louisiana prohibits wearing body armor on school property.
Body Armor Laws in Different Regions:
- Australia - In certain territories of Australia, such as South Australia, Victoria, Northern Territory, ACT, Queensland, and New South Wales, it is illegal to possess body armor without authorization. It is important to be aware of the specific restrictions in place in your area and obtain the necessary authorization if required.
- Canada - In specific Canadian provinces, including Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia, a license is required to possess body armor. However, in the rest of the country, there are no such restrictions. It is advisable to familiarize yourself with the regulations in your province before acquiring body armor.
- European Union - Within the European Union, ballistic protection that is considered "for main military usage" is generally forbidden for civilians. The specific regulations may vary among EU member states, so it is essential to research and comply with the laws in your respective country.
- United Kingdom - Currently, there are no restrictions on purchasing and owning body armor in the United Kingdom. However, it is always prudent to stay informed about any changes in regulations that may occur over time.
Understanding and Adhering to Regional Laws:
To ensure compliance with body armor laws, it is crucial to conduct thorough research and stay up-to-date with the regulations in your specific region. Adhering to the following guidelines is important:
- Familiarize Yourself: Take the time to understand the laws and restrictions regarding body armor possession and purchase in your country, state, or province.
- Obtain Required Authorizations or Licenses: If authorization or a license is necessary in your area, ensure that you obtain the appropriate documentation before acquiring body armor.
- Stay Informed: Keep track of any potential changes or updates to body armor laws in your region. Be aware of ongoing debates or discussions that could impact the legal landscape.
- Responsible Use: Always use body armor responsibly and in accordance with local laws. Understand that body armor should not be used to commit or facilitate criminal activities.
When it comes to purchasing and owning body armor, it's not just about selecting the right level of protection—it's also crucial to understand the laws and regulations in your area. Respecting and complying with these body armor laws is a responsibility that ensures both legal compliance and responsible ownership.
By familiarizing yourself with the laws, you can prioritize your personal safety while staying within the legal boundaries of your region. Conduct thorough research, stay informed, and seek professional guidance if necessary to effectively navigate the body armor laws specific to your location.
Remember, laws and regulations are subject to change, and there is an ongoing battle to infringe on the rights of individuals to acquire and use bulletproof vests. While many states permit civilians without felony convictions to legally obtain and utilize body armor, it's crucial to stay informed about any amendments or new legislation that may impact these freedoms. Stay vigilant, stay aware of your state's specific laws, and exercise your rights responsibly.
We strongly encourage you to stay connected with the team at CAG. By joining our community, you'll gain access to valuable resources, stay updated on changing legislation, and receive expert guidance on purchasing and utilizing bulletproof vests. Together, we can navigate these challenges and safeguard our rights. Visit our website or reach out to us today to become part of the movement for informed empowerment and personal security.